Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The driving factors of excellent health (Part 1 of 6)


Studies in different areas of the world have tried to identify the common causes of extraordinary longevity. In Europe and Asia, certain villages, valleys, and islands are home to a large proportion of healthy octogenarians and nonagenarians. This is the case of Sardinia in Italy and Okinawa in Japan.

Medical research has identified the elements in local diet that help residents maintain an excellent health at an advanced age. Some factors, such as landscape and climate, are linked to specific areas; other determinants, those of a more general nature, can contribute positively to human vitality irrespective of geography.

It stands to reason that the driving factors of extraordinary longevity must correspond to those of excellent health. The issue is to identify elements that we can take up in our daily life without incurring disproportionate effort and expense.

Even if we possessed evidence that some exotic herb is the key to excellent health, such knowledge would be of little help to people who cannot afford to purchase that plant on a regular basis. What we need are ideas that are, at the same time, beneficial and workable.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Martin Pettitt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The driving factors of excellent health (Part 1 of 6)


Studies in different areas of the world have tried to identify the common causes of extraordinary longevity. In Europe and Asia, certain villages, valleys, and islands are home to a large proportion of healthy octogenarians and nonagenarians. This is the case of Sardinia in Italy and Okinawa in Japan.

Medical research has identified the elements in local diet that help residents maintain an excellent health at an advanced age. Some factors, such as landscape and climate, are linked to specific areas; other determinants, those of a more general nature, can contribute positively to human vitality irrespective of geography.

It stands to reason that the driving factors of extraordinary longevity must correspond to those of excellent health. The issue is to identify elements that we can take up in our daily life without incurring disproportionate effort and expense.

Even if we possessed evidence that some exotic herb is the key to excellent health, such knowledge would be of little help to people who cannot afford to purchase that plant on a regular basis. What we need are ideas that are, at the same time, beneficial and workable.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Martin Pettitt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A proven method for avoiding mistakes


Is there a universal method for avoiding mistakes? Some people favour the use of check-lists, while others place their trust on higher education. One may wonder however if a simpler system would not do just as well. Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point.

Although every philosopher has disciples, Krishna would have preferred not to have any. "Life is barely long enough to learn what is what," he often told himself. "Days are too short to try to teach those who cannot be taught."

Nevertheless, out of kindness and love for humanity, Krishna did talk to Nadu from time to time. Have other philosophers been luckier in their choice of disciples? Would Krishna have become wiser if he had avoided Nadu? All this, we don't know, but it is difficult to say no.

One summer day, Krishna woke up at dawn, walked out of his castle, crossed the forest, arrived at the river, and sat down under a banyan tree to meditate. Five hours later, when the sun was already high in the sky, Krishna felt Nadu's shadow at his side.

"Long live the wise, Krishna," saluted Nadu with a smile. "I have a question for you." Krishna opened his eyes and took in a deep breath. "You know what I have told you, Nadu," he replied. "Those curious enough to ask questions are always able to figure out answers for themselves."

If we trust tradition, Nadu was not stupid and his vices were those of an average man. Don't we all wish to learn without effort and know without understanding? Nadu pointed at the stones by the river and asked "How come that every stone is different? Why are they not all the same?"

Krishna looked at the stones and shook his head. What a silly question, he thought, the answer is so obvious that even a child would know. "Each stone is different in order to avoid mistakes," he explained calmly. The response seemed to puzzle Nadu, who stared at the river, totally confused.

Mistakes? What mistakes was Krishna talking about? After a long while, Nadu turned again to Krishna. "I cannot see what you mean," Nadu confessed timidly. "How can stones err if they never make decisions? Doesn't the river alone determine the place of every stone?"

Lesser philosophers would have been exasperated by Nadu's inability to grasp simple truths, but not Krishna. With infinite patience, he stood up, walked up to Nadu, and pointed at the stones. "Tell me, Nadu, what would happen if all stones were the same?" inquired Krishna.

"Then those wouldn't be stones," reasoned Nadu. "Those would be bricks." Krishna nodded encouragingly, but Nadu was unable to finish the chain of thought on his own. "Tell me, Nadu," Krishna went on, "what would happen if you found bricks in the river?"

Perplexed, Nadu looked again at the stones, wondering where Krishna's questions were leading to. "That would be a mistake," Nadu acknowledged hesitatingly. "Bricks are meant for building houses and no sane man throws his bricks into the river." Krishna bent over, picked up a stone, weighed it in his hand, turned to Nadu, and said "if things possess different shape, colour, and weight, is it not to prevent men from making mistakes?"

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by xiquinhosilva under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

A proven method for avoiding mistakes


Is there a universal method for avoiding mistakes? Some people favour the use of check-lists, while others place their trust on higher education. One may wonder however if a simpler system would not do just as well. Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point.

Although every philosopher has disciples, Krishna would have preferred not to have any. "Life is barely long enough to learn what is what," he often told himself. "Days are too short to try to teach those who cannot be taught."

Nevertheless, out of kindness and love for humanity, Krishna did talk to Nadu from time to time. Have other philosophers been luckier in their choice of disciples? Would Krishna have become wiser if he had avoided Nadu? All this, we don't know, but it is difficult to say no.

One summer day, Krishna woke up at dawn, walked out of his castle, crossed the forest, arrived at the river, and sat down under a banyan tree to meditate. Five hours later, when the sun was already high in the sky, Krishna felt Nadu's shadow at his side.

"Long live the wise, Krishna," saluted Nadu with a smile. "I have a question for you." Krishna opened his eyes and took in a deep breath. "You know what I have told you, Nadu," he replied. "Those curious enough to ask questions are always able to figure out answers for themselves."

If we trust tradition, Nadu was not stupid and his vices were those of an average man. Don't we all wish to learn without effort and know without understanding? Nadu pointed at the stones by the river and asked "How come that every stone is different? Why are they not all the same?"

Krishna looked at the stones and shook his head. What a silly question, he thought, the answer is so obvious that even a child would know. "Each stone is different in order to avoid mistakes," he explained calmly. The response seemed to puzzle Nadu, who stared at the river, totally confused.

Mistakes? What mistakes was Krishna talking about? After a long while, Nadu turned again to Krishna. "I cannot see what you mean," Nadu confessed timidly. "How can stones err if they never make decisions? Doesn't the river alone determine the place of every stone?"

Lesser philosophers would have been exasperated by Nadu's inability to grasp simple truths, but not Krishna. With infinite patience, he stood up, walked up to Nadu, and pointed at the stones. "Tell me, Nadu, what would happen if all stones were the same?" inquired Krishna.

"Then those wouldn't be stones," reasoned Nadu. "Those would be bricks." Krishna nodded encouragingly, but Nadu was unable to finish the chain of thought on his own. "Tell me, Nadu," Krishna went on, "what would happen if you found bricks in the river?"

Perplexed, Nadu looked again at the stones, wondering where Krishna's questions were leading to. "That would be a mistake," Nadu acknowledged hesitatingly. "Bricks are meant for building houses and no sane man throws his bricks into the river." Krishna bent over, picked up a stone, weighed it in his hand, turned to Nadu, and said "if things possess different shape, colour, and weight, is it not to prevent men from making mistakes?"

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by xiquinhosilva under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 28 June 2010

The antidote against fear: entrepreneurship


Starting anything new entails risks and demands dedication. Whether you decide to take up playing piano, learning French, or building model aeroplanes, it is going to cost you money, time, and a fair amount of frustration due to inevitable beginner's mistakes.

Irrespective of the technical difficulties of your chosen endeavour, nothing can be compared to the level of commitment required to get a new business off the ground. The sheer number of different tasks that entrepreneurs must perform, from product development to marketing, is overwhelming.

On the other hand, entrepreneurship possesses three characteristics that render it uniquely inviting and reassuring. No other human activity offers these advantages to its practitioners. It is regrettable that many men and women graduate from their studies without knowledge of these facts:

1.- UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES: If you spend some time doing research, you will find areas of enterprise that require little or no formal education and negligible start-up investment. By combining elements of your background, knowledge, and personal circumstances, you can come up with innovative business models. In today's global market, you can subcontract most routine tasks and concentrate on what you do best.

2.- UNLIMITED SCOPE: While many areas of human action impose strict rules to be followed, entrepreneurs remain free to choose their path. North or south, right or left, the business owner can follow his intuition without need to ask for permission. His only arbiters are his cash flow and his customers' satisfaction. Each entrepreneur determines his own speed and how he will break the barriers to his growth.

3.- UNLIMITED LEARNING: Business is the ideal field for the active mind. No discipline is foreign to the committed entrepreneur. The man who manages his own enterprise is a practical philosopher and a street intellectual. Entrepreneurs' tolerance of mistakes comes from their experience of dealing with all kinds of people. Creativity and resiliency are skills that entrepreneurs develop by facing daily challenges.

If the great potential of entrepreneurship is so well established, what explains that it is only able to attract a small part of the population? There is one reason, one major obstacle that prevents many from crossing the line. You can name it marketing, distribution, income generation, or simply sales.

The fear of being unable to achieve enough sales is what blocks 99% of those who entertain the idea of becoming entrepreneurs. Other obstacles pale in comparison to this one. If you succeed in getting over this initial hurdle, chances are that your business will be able to face whatever problems might come your way.

Compared with previous centuries, our digital era has not essentially changed the answer to the sales question. In the field of commerce, like in any other area of life, action is the best antidote against paralysing fear. Start small, try different things, see what works and what doesn't. Learn from mistakes, don't be discouraged, and ignore malevolent criticism. Take limited risks, follow market signals, be persistent, and you will eventually get it right.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by rasmithuk under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The antidote against fear: entrepreneurship


Starting anything new entails risks and demands dedication. Whether you decide to take up playing piano, learning French, or building model aeroplanes, it is going to cost you money, time, and a fair amount of frustration due to inevitable beginner's mistakes.

Irrespective of the technical difficulties of your chosen endeavour, nothing can be compared to the level of commitment required to get a new business off the ground. The sheer number of different tasks that entrepreneurs must perform, from product development to marketing, is overwhelming.

On the other hand, entrepreneurship possesses three characteristics that render it uniquely inviting and reassuring. No other human activity offers these advantages to its practitioners. It is regrettable that many men and women graduate from their studies without knowledge of these facts:

1.- UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES: If you spend some time doing research, you will find areas of enterprise that require little or no formal education and negligible start-up investment. By combining elements of your background, knowledge, and personal circumstances, you can come up with innovative business models. In today's global market, you can subcontract most routine tasks and concentrate on what you do best.

2.- UNLIMITED SCOPE: While many areas of human action impose strict rules to be followed, entrepreneurs remain free to choose their path. North or south, right or left, the business owner can follow his intuition without need to ask for permission. His only arbiters are his cash flow and his customers' satisfaction. Each entrepreneur determines his own speed and how he will break the barriers to his growth.

3.- UNLIMITED LEARNING: Business is the ideal field for the active mind. No discipline is foreign to the committed entrepreneur. The man who manages his own enterprise is a practical philosopher and a street intellectual. Entrepreneurs' tolerance of mistakes comes from their experience of dealing with all kinds of people. Creativity and resiliency are skills that entrepreneurs develop by facing daily challenges.

If the great potential of entrepreneurship is so well established, what explains that it is only able to attract a small part of the population? There is one reason, one major obstacle that prevents many from crossing the line. You can name it marketing, distribution, income generation, or simply sales.

The fear of being unable to achieve enough sales is what blocks 99% of those who entertain the idea of becoming entrepreneurs. Other obstacles pale in comparison to this one. If you succeed in getting over this initial hurdle, chances are that your business will be able to face whatever problems might come your way.

Compared with previous centuries, our digital era has not essentially changed the answer to the sales question. In the field of commerce, like in any other area of life, action is the best antidote against paralysing fear. Start small, try different things, see what works and what doesn't. Learn from mistakes, don't be discouraged, and ignore malevolent criticism. Take limited risks, follow market signals, be persistent, and you will eventually get it right.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by rasmithuk under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 27 June 2010

What nobody tells you about career choice


Studies have identified many factors that contribute to career success, but so far, nobody has been able to build a convincing model to predict an individual's future or how much happiness a certain profession will bring him. This is why you will seldom hear career counsellors recommend risky or artistic professions that may lead to unemployment.

This sort of advice aims at achieving social insertion. Risk is identified as a problem, safety as the solution. Career recommendations based on conventional truth never inspire daring adventurers. In times when the market requires creativity at all levels, this fearful approach might be fundamentally wrong or, perhaps, it has been wrong at all times in History.

In the year 1820, Bertel Thorvaldsen, an acclaimed romantic sculptor, travelled back from Rome to his native Denmark. Thorvaldsen was then 50 years old and at the pinnacle of his fame. During his stay in Copenhagen, he talked to many aspiring artists, giving them generous advice and encouragement.

One night, when Thorvaldsen returned to his hotel after a reception in his honour, he was told that a boy had been waiting for him all day. Intrigued, Thorvaldsen looked around the hotel hall and found a poorly dressed kid asleep on a chair.

He walked up to the boy, shook his arm gently, and whispered to him "It is late, kid, go home." Startled, the boy opened his eyes and jumped to his feet. "I was waiting for you, Herr Thorvaldsen, I have been waiting for you all day."

That must true, thought Thorvaldsen, since the boy looked so exhausted and hungry that he was pitiful to see. "I wanted to ask you for advice on my career," the kid went on. "I cannot decide whether I should become a novelist or a poet."

Out of compassion, Thorvaldsen ordered a glass of warm milk for the boy and listened to his story. It was a heartbreaking tale. With adolescence, the kid had lost the striking voice that had gained him some praise and donations in his home town and had turned into one more unemployed youth on the streets.

"This is why I have thought of becoming a writer," the boy explained shyly, taking three ruffled pages out of his pocket and handing them over to Thorvaldsen. Strange enough, the idea of asking a sculptor for literary advice seemed to fit the kid's whole pathetic situation.

Thorvaldsen devoted a few minutes to reading the text and was appalled to see innumerable grammar and spelling mistakes. It was obvious that the boy had no chance of becoming a writer. Even if it was cruel, it was better to tell him the truth, so that he could at least learn a trade.

"What is your name?" he asked, returning the pages. "Hans-Christian," replied the boy full of hope. "Hans-Christian Andersen." A silence ensued, as Thorvaldsen searched for the least hurtful way to express his judgement.

He stared at Hans-Christian Andersen for a long while as he remembered his own artistic ambitions as a young man, many years ago, but of course, his own situation had been completely different. Thorvaldsen took in a deep breath and shook his head. "Look, Hans-Christian," he began, "I don't know how to tell you this."

At that moment, Andersen nodded and gave the sculptor a crazy smile. That was what he had been waiting for. He was about to hear the words of encouragement that he needed so badly. He was sure that an artist of the calibre of Thorvaldsen would be immediately able to recognize his talent and point him in the right direction.

"What do you think, Herr Thorvaldsen, should I become a novelist or a poet?" he asked again, this time full of confidence. Fascinated, Thorvaldsen looked at the kid straight in the eye and realized how foolish he had been. "I have no doubt, Hans-Christian," he answered softly, "that you can become both."

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Martin Pettitt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

What nobody tells you about career choice


Studies have identified many factors that contribute to career success, but so far, nobody has been able to build a convincing model to predict an individual's future or how much happiness a certain profession will bring him. This is why you will seldom hear career counsellors recommend risky or artistic professions that may lead to unemployment.

This sort of advice aims at achieving social insertion. Risk is identified as a problem, safety as the solution. Career recommendations based on conventional truth never inspire daring adventurers. In times when the market requires creativity at all levels, this fearful approach might be fundamentally wrong or, perhaps, it has been wrong at all times in History.

In the year 1820, Bertel Thorvaldsen, an acclaimed romantic sculptor, travelled back from Rome to his native Denmark. Thorvaldsen was then 50 years old and at the pinnacle of his fame. During his stay in Copenhagen, he talked to many aspiring artists, giving them generous advice and encouragement.

One night, when Thorvaldsen returned to his hotel after a reception in his honour, he was told that a boy had been waiting for him all day. Intrigued, Thorvaldsen looked around the hotel hall and found a poorly dressed kid asleep on a chair.

He walked up to the boy, shook his arm gently, and whispered to him "It is late, kid, go home." Startled, the boy opened his eyes and jumped to his feet. "I was waiting for you, Herr Thorvaldsen, I have been waiting for you all day."

That must true, thought Thorvaldsen, since the boy looked so exhausted and hungry that he was pitiful to see. "I wanted to ask you for advice on my career," the kid went on. "I cannot decide whether I should become a novelist or a poet."

Out of compassion, Thorvaldsen ordered a glass of warm milk for the boy and listened to his story. It was a heartbreaking tale. With adolescence, the kid had lost the striking voice that had gained him some praise and donations in his home town and had turned into one more unemployed youth on the streets.

"This is why I have thought of becoming a writer," the boy explained shyly, taking three ruffled pages out of his pocket and handing them over to Thorvaldsen. Strange enough, the idea of asking a sculptor for literary advice seemed to fit the kid's whole pathetic situation.

Thorvaldsen devoted a few minutes to reading the text and was appalled to see innumerable grammar and spelling mistakes. It was obvious that the boy had no chance of becoming a writer. Even if it was cruel, it was better to tell him the truth, so that he could at least learn a trade.

"What is your name?" he asked, returning the pages. "Hans-Christian," replied the boy full of hope. "Hans-Christian Andersen." A silence ensued, as Thorvaldsen searched for the least hurtful way to express his judgement.

He stared at Hans-Christian Andersen for a long while as he remembered his own artistic ambitions as a young man, many years ago, but of course, his own situation had been completely different. Thorvaldsen took in a deep breath and shook his head. "Look, Hans-Christian," he began, "I don't know how to tell you this."

At that moment, Andersen nodded and gave the sculptor a crazy smile. That was what he had been waiting for. He was about to hear the words of encouragement that he needed so badly. He was sure that an artist of the calibre of Thorvaldsen would be immediately able to recognize his talent and point him in the right direction.

"What do you think, Herr Thorvaldsen, should I become a novelist or a poet?" he asked again, this time full of confidence. Fascinated, Thorvaldsen looked at the kid straight in the eye and realized how foolish he had been. "I have no doubt, Hans-Christian," he answered softly, "that you can become both."

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Martin Pettitt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 26 June 2010

How to turn discouragement into motivation


"This will never work," is a piece of advice that you will hear too many times. In all your ventures, personal or professional, you will face moments of discouragement. You will wonder why on earth you are attempting to improve anything. You will question if progress, however small, is possible at all.

This is not foolish thinking. Doubts are justified. The proof that achievement is impossible lies perennially all around. It is something that, if you had looked before, you would have found. You can bury your dreams as deep as you wish.

You will not miss reasons for renouncing your soul: (a) Ninety-two per cent of new businesses shut down within five years. In some countries, the failure rate goes as high as ninety-five out of a hundred. (b) Two out of five marriages end up in divorce. (c) Major companies reject more than a hundred candidates for every new hire. (d) Some people need to date for ten years before they meet someone who is a good match.

Misery and self-pity are well grounded on reality. On the other hand, so are serenity and confidence. Pick up a biography of anyone remarkable and you will read how many horrendous mistakes he made. Talk to someone who is successful and hear him recount the formidable obstacles that he had to surmount.

Are both positions correct, optimistic and depressed? The facts are the same, the difference lies in the inner flame. Fearful views are restrained, upbeat visions enjoy a wider range. The right perspective enhances self-reliance. Philosophy is the foundation of resilience. These are my three recommendations for turning low spirits into confidence:

1.- IGNORE COMMENTS THAT DON'T MAKE SENSE. When people make remarks outside their field of expertise, they usually don't know what they are talking about. Don't get angry at those who try to discourage you or describe your situation as hopeless. Even friendly judgements are often passed without knowing all the facts. If you hear advice that makes sense, use it. If criticism becomes virulent, shrug your shoulders and keep calm.

2.- SEE BAD LUCK AND MISTAKES AS PART OF THE COST OF LIVING. In most fields of human endeavour, demands for immediate perfect results are unrealistic. Each person possesses unique natural endowments and disadvantages. Individuals are dealt different cards in terms of talent, looks, material resources, and family connections. Comparing your opportunities with someone else's is a meaningless exercise. Accept your misfortunes and errors as part of the cost of living. Make new plans and move on.

3.- UNDERSTAND WHY REASON AND PERSISTENCE WIN IN THE LONG TERM. Life offers no one a guarantee of success, but intelligent persistence works. Action and ambition always bring about problems and mistakes. Through reason, we can learn from a setback, remedy a lack, and change our track. Errors are not isolated strains, but links in a learning chain. A long-term perspective makes you deserve as many chances are you may wish to claim.

"So far, this has not worked, but the game is not over yet," is the sensible reaction to problems and mistakes. Taking a long-term perspective will help you climb the next steps also in periods of stress. Your boat has still a long way to go. Adjust your course and continue to row.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Shadowgate under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to turn discouragement into motivation


"This will never work," is a piece of advice that you will hear too many times. In all your ventures, personal or professional, you will face moments of discouragement. You will wonder why on earth you are attempting to improve anything. You will question if progress, however small, is possible at all.

This is not foolish thinking. Doubts are justified. The proof that achievement is impossible lies perennially all around. It is something that, if you had looked before, you would have found. You can bury your dreams as deep as you wish.

You will not miss reasons for renouncing your soul: (a) Ninety-two per cent of new businesses shut down within five years. In some countries, the failure rate goes as high as ninety-five out of a hundred. (b) Two out of five marriages end up in divorce. (c) Major companies reject more than a hundred candidates for every new hire. (d) Some people need to date for ten years before they meet someone who is a good match.

Misery and self-pity are well grounded on reality. On the other hand, so are serenity and confidence. Pick up a biography of anyone remarkable and you will read how many horrendous mistakes he made. Talk to someone who is successful and hear him recount the formidable obstacles that he had to surmount.

Are both positions correct, optimistic and depressed? The facts are the same, the difference lies in the inner flame. Fearful views are restrained, upbeat visions enjoy a wider range. The right perspective enhances self-reliance. Philosophy is the foundation of resilience. These are my three recommendations for turning low spirits into confidence:

1.- IGNORE COMMENTS THAT DON'T MAKE SENSE. When people make remarks outside their field of expertise, they usually don't know what they are talking about. Don't get angry at those who try to discourage you or describe your situation as hopeless. Even friendly judgements are often passed without knowing all the facts. If you hear advice that makes sense, use it. If criticism becomes virulent, shrug your shoulders and keep calm.

2.- SEE BAD LUCK AND MISTAKES AS PART OF THE COST OF LIVING. In most fields of human endeavour, demands for immediate perfect results are unrealistic. Each person possesses unique natural endowments and disadvantages. Individuals are dealt different cards in terms of talent, looks, material resources, and family connections. Comparing your opportunities with someone else's is a meaningless exercise. Accept your misfortunes and errors as part of the cost of living. Make new plans and move on.

3.- UNDERSTAND WHY REASON AND PERSISTENCE WIN IN THE LONG TERM. Life offers no one a guarantee of success, but intelligent persistence works. Action and ambition always bring about problems and mistakes. Through reason, we can learn from a setback, remedy a lack, and change our track. Errors are not isolated strains, but links in a learning chain. A long-term perspective makes you deserve as many chances are you may wish to claim.

"So far, this has not worked, but the game is not over yet," is the sensible reaction to problems and mistakes. Taking a long-term perspective will help you climb the next steps also in periods of stress. Your boat has still a long way to go. Adjust your course and continue to row.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Shadowgate under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 25 June 2010

Does good health have to be expensive?


The effect of hundreds of books, magazine articles, and television programmes on nutrition has been negligible. In our days, the great majority of the population continues to eat in ways that sharply increase their risk of major illness and shorten their lifespan. Social scientists have come up with three explanations for this fact, but are still discussing which one is exact. To make things worse, these three theories leave us little margin to react:

1.- IT IS COMPLICATED. Nutrition advice, some argue, is so abstruse that will always remain dry and unappealing to most men and women. Recondite knowledge is destined, by its very nature, to the chosen few. In other words, this is how it is and there is no way around that.

2.- IT IS IMPRACTICAL. After reading a nutrition or weight-loss book, motivation lasts only for a couple of weeks, others sustain. The whole advice is so impractical that cannot be implemented by anyone leading a normal life. It is as though you expected everybody to be interested in growing tomatoes on his windowsill. Who on earth can spare the time and energy to do that?

3.- IT IS CONTRADICTORY. The advice you read in one book is quickly contradicted by the next publication or television programme. Was nutrition not supposed to be an empirical science? How come that experts cannot agree on whether you should ban chocolate from your diet?

Who has the patience to navigate through thousands of pages of conflicting prescriptions? A third group of commentators concludes that, if specialists are still discussing the pros and cons of orange juice, the whole thing might not be worth the effort.

Which hypothesis is right? All three are correct in part, but none of them draws conclusions worthy to impart. The blindingly obvious has been left unsaid, as it often happens when truth is uncomfortable to spread. This is the most likely and, in my view, most accurate explanation: The health formulas proposed in those programmes are simply too expensive. No individual will prolong a diet that he can barely afford.

Organic vegetables, exotic fish, esoteric spices, and the like are easier to recommend than to obtain. The health challenge of our time does not consist of finding new theories to preach. What we need is to bring good nutrition within everybody's reach.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by TravelEden under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Does good health have to be expensive?


The effect of hundreds of books, magazine articles, and television programmes on nutrition has been negligible. In our days, the great majority of the population continues to eat in ways that sharply increase their risk of major illness and shorten their lifespan. Social scientists have come up with three explanations for this fact, but are still discussing which one is exact. To make things worse, these three theories leave us little margin to react:

1.- IT IS COMPLICATED. Nutrition advice, some argue, is so abstruse that will always remain dry and unappealing to most men and women. Recondite knowledge is destined, by its very nature, to the chosen few. In other words, this is how it is and there is no way around that.

2.- IT IS IMPRACTICAL. After reading a nutrition or weight-loss book, motivation lasts only for a couple of weeks, others sustain. The whole advice is so impractical that cannot be implemented by anyone leading a normal life. It is as though you expected everybody to be interested in growing tomatoes on his windowsill. Who on earth can spare the time and energy to do that?

3.- IT IS CONTRADICTORY. The advice you read in one book is quickly contradicted by the next publication or television programme. Was nutrition not supposed to be an empirical science? How come that experts cannot agree on whether you should ban chocolate from your diet?

Who has the patience to navigate through thousands of pages of conflicting prescriptions? A third group of commentators concludes that, if specialists are still discussing the pros and cons of orange juice, the whole thing might not be worth the effort.

Which hypothesis is right? All three are correct in part, but none of them draws conclusions worthy to impart. The blindingly obvious has been left unsaid, as it often happens when truth is uncomfortable to spread. This is the most likely and, in my view, most accurate explanation: The health formulas proposed in those programmes are simply too expensive. No individual will prolong a diet that he can barely afford.

Organic vegetables, exotic fish, esoteric spices, and the like are easier to recommend than to obtain. The health challenge of our time does not consist of finding new theories to preach. What we need is to bring good nutrition within everybody's reach.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by TravelEden under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The effective response to insurmountable problems


The question of how to deal effectively with insurmountable problems is absent from most management books. Even in advanced business courses, the study of ethics is reduced to little more than avoiding conflicts of interests and ensuring compliance with stock market regulations.

However, the truth is that people must sometimes deal with extreme difficulties. If you doubt this statement, open the business pages of today's newspaper and take a look. In the worst companies, abuse, lying, and stealing are the order of the day. Even corporations that devote massive efforts to recruiting the best people will inevitably find themselves with 1% corruption in the factory floor and in the boardroom.

Chances are that, sooner or later, you will have to confront insurmountable obstacles and make a difficult decision. In extreme situations, the right answer never comes easy. What will you do when factors outside your control constrain your choices? How will you decide when all alternatives carry negative consequences?

The story of Boethius and Cassiodorus provides a forceful illustration of two strategies for facing extreme difficulties. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy was taken over by Ostrogoth tribes. In the year 494 C.E., Theodoric became king and ruled the country for the next 30 years.

Boethius was only 25 years old when he moved from Greece to Italy in order to work for Theodoric, the barbarian king. Boethius' own writings reveal that he was conscious of the dangers of accepting the job, but he believed that, somehow, he would be able to survive and prosper.

The initial five years of Boethius in Italy were a resounding success. His intellect and readiness to ethical compromise allowed him to rise quickly through the ranks. On the eve of his 30th birthday, he was promoted to the leading position in Theodoric's bureaucracy.

That was exactly what Boethius had been looking for. The dark aspects of his job were unmistakable, since it involved passing many an arbitrary death sentence. At the same time, the post provided him ample resources to devote to his life's passion: translating Aristotle's work from Greek into Latin.

The tide turned in the year 525 C.E., when Theodoric, on the basis of rumours, had Boethius arrested and charged with treason. Did the sudden loss of freedom and possessions take Boethius by surprise? Had he not witnessed himself many times that, at the court, intrigue often weighs heavier than truth?

After Boethius was put to death, Theodoric appointed Cassiodorus to head his administration. The new job-holder had been a friend of Boethius and knew that, in the barbarian court, success was transient, enemies many, reversals of fortune frequent, and consequences brutal.

Like Boethius, Cassiodorus loved books and had joined Theodoric's bureaucracy in order to be able to study and write. On his first day on the job, Cassiodorus decided that he would not make the same mistake as his predecessor. He would not compromise his principles and give way to evil.

For a while, everything went fine. In trials, Cassiodorus passed mild sentences. In correspondence, he softened the words dictated by the king. In religious disputes, he kept silent and out of trouble. Nevertheless, the time came when he found himself enmeshed in a life-or-death conflict.

After Athalaric succeeded Theodoric, the Ostrogoth court split into factions, each possessing equal forces. When Cassiodorus was put to choose between the camps, he did something that no one had done until that time. Instead of deciding for the lesser evil, he quit.

Seen in retrospective, it is obvious that Cassiodorus had spent years preparing himself for that moment. Within weeks, he sold everything he had with exception of his 600 books. He said farewell to the court, loaded his volumes on a ship, and vanished.

The ship circumvented Italy, traversed the Adriatic Sea, and headed to a secluded Greek province. There, Cassiodorus purchased a modest farm, founded a monastery, and devoted the next decades to studying and writing, as he had planned from the very beginning.

Had Cassiodorus stayed longer in Italy, he might have accumulated immense riches. His decision to leave danger behind led him to a life of relative poverty. We don't know if Cassiodorus lived happily ever after, but records show that he became 100 years old.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by zoutedrop under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Simple principles for a solid health - Story of Hippocrates (Part 5 of 5)


Rote learning rarely instils personal responsibility, neither in the field of preventive medicine nor in other areas. Entrepreneurship is a much better approach to encouraging individuals to take command of their health.

Hippocrates' principles should not be engraved in stone, but in our souls; they should not be presented as dead words, but as promises of a better future.

The essential characteristic of entrepreneurship, the need of constant focused action, promotes rapid learning to an extent that no education system can equal. Telling someone a hundred times a day that he should behave responsibly will simply put him to sleep.

In contrast, showing him the advantages of entrepreneurial action might whet his curiosity and prompt him to action. What man learns through example and experience is rarely forgotten. Hippocrates, who also made a point of practising his own theories and preaching by example, lived to be 90 years old.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Fr Antunes under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Simple principles for a solid health - Story of Hippocrates (Part 5 of 5)


Rote learning rarely instils personal responsibility, neither in the field of preventive medicine nor in other areas. Entrepreneurship is a much better approach to encouraging individuals to take command of their health.

Hippocrates' principles should not be engraved in stone, but in our souls; they should not be presented as dead words, but as promises of a better future.

The essential characteristic of entrepreneurship, the need of constant focused action, promotes rapid learning to an extent that no education system can equal. Telling someone a hundred times a day that he should behave responsibly will simply put him to sleep.

In contrast, showing him the advantages of entrepreneurial action might whet his curiosity and prompt him to action. What man learns through example and experience is rarely forgotten. Hippocrates, who also made a point of practising his own theories and preaching by example, lived to be 90 years old.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Fr Antunes under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Simple principles for a solid health - Story of Hippocrates (Part 4 of 5)


They know that going against the facts of reality will fail to produce profits or, even worse, might push them into bankruptcy. Mistakes teach entrepreneurs what doesn't work. Errors force them to correct a misguided course. Their efforts are channelled productively into worthy pursuits.

Business is at the same time self-regulating and self-encouraging. In the market, virtuous behaviour tends to occur naturally because it furthers businessmen's own interests. There is no reason that would prevent a similar process from taking place in the field of preventive medicine.

If we want to improve our health, entrepreneurship is a workable, although far from self-evident solution. Few people change their lifestyle before they internalize the necessity to do it.

Smokers who quit their noxious habit have often been shaken by the realization that they are shortening their days. Their transformation frequently takes place after witnessing a fellow smoker die of lung cancer.

To be continued in Part 5

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Martin Pettitt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Simple principles for a solid health - Story of Hippocrates (Part 4 of 5)


They know that going against the facts of reality will fail to produce profits or, even worse, might push them into bankruptcy. Mistakes teach entrepreneurs what doesn't work. Errors force them to correct a misguided course. Their efforts are channelled productively into worthy pursuits.

Business is at the same time self-regulating and self-encouraging. In the market, virtuous behaviour tends to occur naturally because it furthers businessmen's own interests. There is no reason that would prevent a similar process from taking place in the field of preventive medicine.

If we want to improve our health, entrepreneurship is a workable, although far from self-evident solution. Few people change their lifestyle before they internalize the necessity to do it.

Smokers who quit their noxious habit have often been shaken by the realization that they are shortening their days. Their transformation frequently takes place after witnessing a fellow smoker die of lung cancer.

To be continued in Part 5

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Martin Pettitt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 21 June 2010

Simple principles for a solid health - Story of Hippocrates (Part 3 of 5)


If we look around, we still see millions of people making the same mistakes that citizens of Ancient Greece made in Hippocrates' time. We remain passive in the face of environmental threats to our health, we eat the wrong food or too much of it, and we lead unsustainable lifestyles that end up damaging our body.

What is the reason of the failure of most attempts to increase personal responsibility in health matters? Are people impervious to rational arguments? Is the message not sufficiently powerful or interesting? Shouldn't the importance of a good health not be self-evident to an adult audience?

The root of the problem might lie more in the theory than in its implementation. The whole discussion about responsibility might be missing an essential factor whose role in health protection is little understood, namely, entrepreneurship. Individuals who possess personal initiative want to take their destiny into their own hands, not only financially, but also in the area of physical and mental well-being.

Entrepreneurship helps prevent sickness because it trains the mind to compare current actions with future consequences. Medical doctors advise patients to behave and eat rationally. Similarly, businessmen assess markets, identify what consumers want to buy, and design their products accordingly.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Rakesh Kumar Dogra under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Simple principles for a solid health - Story of Hippocrates (Part 3 of 5)


If we look around, we still see millions of people making the same mistakes that citizens of Ancient Greece made in Hippocrates' time. We remain passive in the face of environmental threats to our health, we eat the wrong food or too much of it, and we lead unsustainable lifestyles that end up damaging our body.

What is the reason of the failure of most attempts to increase personal responsibility in health matters? Are people impervious to rational arguments? Is the message not sufficiently powerful or interesting? Shouldn't the importance of a good health not be self-evident to an adult audience?

The root of the problem might lie more in the theory than in its implementation. The whole discussion about responsibility might be missing an essential factor whose role in health protection is little understood, namely, entrepreneurship. Individuals who possess personal initiative want to take their destiny into their own hands, not only financially, but also in the area of physical and mental well-being.

Entrepreneurship helps prevent sickness because it trains the mind to compare current actions with future consequences. Medical doctors advise patients to behave and eat rationally. Similarly, businessmen assess markets, identify what consumers want to buy, and design their products accordingly.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Rakesh Kumar Dogra under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Simple principles for a solid health - Story of Hippocrates (Part 2 of 5)


Modern holistic medicine has adopted many of Hippocrates' precepts, emphasizing a balanced diet, adequate rest, mild exercise, and peace of mind. Does it not stand to reason that it is immeasurably less expensive to avoid sickness than to cure it? Why do millions of individuals destroy their health thought self-defeating behaviour?

No one possesses perfect knowledge of the impact of each of his actions on his own health, but we do know enough to be able to prevent a large number of self-inflicted diseases. How many people are actually unaware of the perverse effects of smoking? What percentage of heavy drinkers can claim to ignore the dire consequences of excessive alcohol intake?

The answers to those questions point out to individual responsibility. In ancient times, patients used to blame sickness on supernatural forces. Nowadays, victims of their own faulty behaviour frequently blame third parties for illness or injury. In some cases, this is done with the aim of seeking a financial reward or other type of compensation.

During the last fifty years, massive efforts have been devoted to raising public awareness of fundamental health issues. The results, however, are all but encouraging. Advertising campaigns aiming at making individuals more responsible for their own health have still to provide evidence of long-term success.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by David Berkowitz under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Simple principles for a solid health - Story of Hippocrates (Part 2 of 5)


Modern holistic medicine has adopted many of Hippocrates' precepts, emphasizing a balanced diet, adequate rest, mild exercise, and peace of mind. Does it not stand to reason that it is immeasurably less expensive to avoid sickness than to cure it? Why do millions of individuals destroy their health thought self-defeating behaviour?

No one possesses perfect knowledge of the impact of each of his actions on his own health, but we do know enough to be able to prevent a large number of self-inflicted diseases. How many people are actually unaware of the perverse effects of smoking? What percentage of heavy drinkers can claim to ignore the dire consequences of excessive alcohol intake?

The answers to those questions point out to individual responsibility. In ancient times, patients used to blame sickness on supernatural forces. Nowadays, victims of their own faulty behaviour frequently blame third parties for illness or injury. In some cases, this is done with the aim of seeking a financial reward or other type of compensation.

During the last fifty years, massive efforts have been devoted to raising public awareness of fundamental health issues. The results, however, are all but encouraging. Advertising campaigns aiming at making individuals more responsible for their own health have still to provide evidence of long-term success.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by David Berkowitz under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Simple principles for a solid health - Story of Hippocrates (Part 1 of 5)


Medicine and other sciences have advanced immensely since Antiquity. Unfortunately, many of their fundamental principles have barely spread beyond the circle of professionals and specialists. Even in the 21st century, important segments of the population still know less about their own health than about sports or entertainment celebrities.

Hippocrates (460-370 BC), the most famous physician of Ancient Greece, already identified basic rules for protecting our health. However, although many generations have passed, his major discovery, the idea that sickness rarely happens by chance, is still ignored by millions of people.

Fifteen centuries ago, the belief that illness was a matter of bad luck was widespread in society. In our days, even though such conception has become less prevalent, it still plays a key role in determining how we live, how we see ourselves, and how we make important decisions.

According to Hippocrates, medical practitioners should above all allow Nature to exert its curative powers on patients. Artificial remedies should be avoided because they interfere with the self-healing capacities of our body. Treatments should be mild and gentle, aiming at helping patients recover their energies and strengthen their natural defences.

Illness, better than cured, should be prevented whenever possible. Hippocrates named the three essential risks that are, in most cases, responsible for our physical decay: our food, our environment, and our personal habits. The conclusion that follows is that each individual is primarily responsible for his own health, barring irresistible accident or catastrophe.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by SearchNetMedia under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 18 June 2010

Never pay too much attention to noise


"The economy is collapsing," is a expression of gloom that one hears frequently these days on the radio. Newspapers and TV illustrate current catastrophes with pictures of unemployed workers demonstrating in front of closed factories. No wonder that those who watch those images get the feeling that the world is coming to an end.

If you ask yourself what most people are going to do to help the victims, chances are that your answer will be "pretty much nothing." One could argue that the sole purpose of reporting those nightmares is to exaggerate existing problems and induce numbness in the audience. The implicit motto seems to be "watch and be paralysed."

Presenting problems as allegedly unsolvable is not an approach conductive to finding solutions. Why on earth are people devoting their precious time to watching news about dreadful events if they are not planning to contribute to a solution?

Spend less time reading newspapers. Ignore depressing messages on the radio that are meant to turn misery into entertainment. The antidote against this type of poison is simple.

Cut down the hours that you spend in front of the television. Rational individuals are never satisfied with hearing about problems. An active mind looks for alternatives and practical solutions.

The question becomes essential when we focus on our immediate environment. A man needs resiliency and creativity to face problems that affect his family and friends. Compassion and good words rarely save the day. Acquiring the habit of looking for alternatives might do more to increase your success and happiness than receiving a substantial inheritance.

A man becomes an independent thinker when he readjusts his views in favour of a realistic perception of the world. Sooner or later, you will have to deal with a catastrophe in your life. Your ability to search relentlessly for better options will minimize your losses and lead you out of the danger zone.

Insecure men and women are paralysed by dreadful news, but rational individuals know that media reports tend to exaggerate catastrophes.
When scaremongers conclude that all is lost, independent thinkers are already exploring new opportunities.

Passive spectators love to point out how desperate a situation is, but self-reliant individuals know that depressing media stories tend to portray people who lack initiative to improve their own life.

Every minute devoted to contemplating disasters is wasted. If you are a victim of a major economic shift or personal tragedy, stand up, wipe the dust off your clothes, refocus your goals, and move on.

Remind yourself that today's catastrophes might be regarded as minor annoyances a decade later. In the long term, your goals, actions, and persistence play the decisive role in your life. An active mind does not stand still in the dark and is always searching for better alternatives.

False convictions, in particular when a persons believes that he is not creative, can constitute a monumental barriers to independent thinking. This is the kind of myth that is meant to keep you down and destroy everything you own. This is the sort of fantasy that can make you small and reduce your ambitions to nothing at all.
  • Have you ever been fed nonsense such as that creative people are exclusively those who do artistic things, such as singing, playing guitar, drawing, or directing films?
  • Have you been sold on the mistaken idea that most jobs in industry and commerce consist of boring routines to be performed in a narrowly-described manner in order to arrive at predetermined results?
  • Have you been wrongly told that only top positions in an organization require some measure of creativity and that all other employees are not supposed to put forward new ideas?
Those statements are misrepresentations you should not believe a word of them. Whatever your station in life, you owe to yourself to see things as they really are and let go of myths about creativity. The truth is that you are an intelligent, creative human being, and that it is up to you to decide how to exercise your creativity.

Nobody has the right to exclude any fields of human activity from creativity and innovation. You are the only one who is entitled to choose what goals you want to pursue and in which way.
Your life and your personal conditions are unique. There is no one else like you in the world and there will never be.

Your perceptions and experience cannot be internalized by another human being. The combination of knowledge that exists in your mind is singular to one person. Your creativity is the factor that allows you to reshape that knowledge and produce something original.

The years of your life will end up some day, hopefully in a distant future. No man knows how much time he has, but we are all conscious of our mortality. This fact should not be interpreted negatively. On the contrary, it should become an encouragement to make the best of every hour.

Today, right now, is the best moment to discard preconceived ideas about creativity. It is the ideal time to reclaim for ourselves, in our chosen field of activity, the right to exert our mind to the utmost.

Don't waste a minute in admiration of someone else's grandiose view of his own avocation. Develop an active mind that looks for alternatives. Make your own decisions and throw away what doesn't work. Creativity can be demonstrated daily in all our actions. When we choose and when we move, we become ourselves the living proof.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by geopungo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Never pay too much attention to noise


"The economy is collapsing," is a expression of gloom that one hears frequently these days on the radio. Newspapers and TV illustrate current catastrophes with pictures of unemployed workers demonstrating in front of closed factories. No wonder that those who watch those images get the feeling that the world is coming to an end.

If you ask yourself what most people are going to do to help the victims, chances are that your answer will be "pretty much nothing." One could argue that the sole purpose of reporting those nightmares is to exaggerate existing problems and induce numbness in the audience. The implicit motto seems to be "watch and be paralysed."

Presenting problems as allegedly unsolvable is not an approach conductive to finding solutions. Why on earth are people devoting their precious time to watching news about dreadful events if they are not planning to contribute to a solution?

Spend less time reading newspapers. Ignore depressing messages on the radio that are meant to turn misery into entertainment. The antidote against this type of poison is simple.

Cut down the hours that you spend in front of the television. Rational individuals are never satisfied with hearing about problems. An active mind looks for alternatives and practical solutions.

The question becomes essential when we focus on our immediate environment. A man needs resiliency and creativity to face problems that affect his family and friends. Compassion and good words rarely save the day. Acquiring the habit of looking for alternatives might do more to increase your success and happiness than receiving a substantial inheritance.

A man becomes an independent thinker when he readjusts his views in favour of a realistic perception of the world. Sooner or later, you will have to deal with a catastrophe in your life. Your ability to search relentlessly for better options will minimize your losses and lead you out of the danger zone.

Insecure men and women are paralysed by dreadful news, but rational individuals know that media reports tend to exaggerate catastrophes.
When scaremongers conclude that all is lost, independent thinkers are already exploring new opportunities.

Passive spectators love to point out how desperate a situation is, but self-reliant individuals know that depressing media stories tend to portray people who lack initiative to improve their own life.

Every minute devoted to contemplating disasters is wasted. If you are a victim of a major economic shift or personal tragedy, stand up, wipe the dust off your clothes, refocus your goals, and move on.

Remind yourself that today's catastrophes might be regarded as minor annoyances a decade later. In the long term, your goals, actions, and persistence play the decisive role in your life. An active mind does not stand still in the dark and is always searching for better alternatives.

False convictions, in particular when a persons believes that he is not creative, can constitute a monumental barriers to independent thinking. This is the kind of myth that is meant to keep you down and destroy everything you own. This is the sort of fantasy that can make you small and reduce your ambitions to nothing at all.
  • Have you ever been fed nonsense such as that creative people are exclusively those who do artistic things, such as singing, playing guitar, drawing, or directing films?
  • Have you been sold on the mistaken idea that most jobs in industry and commerce consist of boring routines to be performed in a narrowly-described manner in order to arrive at predetermined results?
  • Have you been wrongly told that only top positions in an organization require some measure of creativity and that all other employees are not supposed to put forward new ideas?
Those statements are misrepresentations you should not believe a word of them. Whatever your station in life, you owe to yourself to see things as they really are and let go of myths about creativity. The truth is that you are an intelligent, creative human being, and that it is up to you to decide how to exercise your creativity.

Nobody has the right to exclude any fields of human activity from creativity and innovation. You are the only one who is entitled to choose what goals you want to pursue and in which way.
Your life and your personal conditions are unique. There is no one else like you in the world and there will never be.

Your perceptions and experience cannot be internalized by another human being. The combination of knowledge that exists in your mind is singular to one person. Your creativity is the factor that allows you to reshape that knowledge and produce something original.

The years of your life will end up some day, hopefully in a distant future. No man knows how much time he has, but we are all conscious of our mortality. This fact should not be interpreted negatively. On the contrary, it should become an encouragement to make the best of every hour.

Today, right now, is the best moment to discard preconceived ideas about creativity. It is the ideal time to reclaim for ourselves, in our chosen field of activity, the right to exert our mind to the utmost.

Don't waste a minute in admiration of someone else's grandiose view of his own avocation. Develop an active mind that looks for alternatives. Make your own decisions and throw away what doesn't work. Creativity can be demonstrated daily in all our actions. When we choose and when we move, we become ourselves the living proof.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by geopungo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Calculate your chances and improve your approach


Do you ever wonder whether all your efforts are being in vain? Do you ever ask yourself if you should give everything up and start a new career? In all professions and businesses, disappointment comes in waves, but that is no reason to do anything foolish.

Please do not throw anything away, make yourself a cup of tea, and let me draw a few facts to your attention. The best lessons can be learned from those who have experienced failure the most often and have found the way to turn it into success.
  • Barely 16% of movies make money for their financiers. Most other films are little more than financial black holes.
  • Only 5% of actors make as much money as a mid-level employee, that is, during the years when actors are lucky enough to find work at all.
  • Less than 1% of movie scripts ever get made into films, despite the fact that many scripts are rewritten a dozen times before they are finally rejected.
Despite their glamour, film festivals are playgrounds where people spend their days saying no to each other. Hundreds of movie producers attend the Cannes Film Festival with projects under their arms, trying frantically to raise money from film distributors around the world.

Ten days later, when the festival is over, most of those movie projects are still unfunded and die an early death. Disappointment and rejection belong to the nature of the film business as much as exciting stories and colourful personalities.

Nevertheless, despite all difficulties, you see those people get up from the ground, take a shower, change clothes, and go back immediately to work on the next project. How come that they don't give up and quit the movie business disgusted with the lack of opportunity? Here are the three reasons:

1.- NEVER TAKE IT PERSONALLY. If a project is rejected, maybe it was not the right time or the right people. If there is a lesson to be learned for the future, learn it. Sometimes, there is none, so just shrug your shoulders and move on.

2.- WHEN YOU MAKE IT, YOU CAN MAKE IT BIG. Movie producers who never had a single great success in their careers know that the next film could be the right one. When a movie catches the taste of the public, there is no limit to how far it can go.

3.- THROUGH PROGRESSIVE IMPROVEMENT, YOU WILL ULTIMATELY FIND THE WAY. Nobody knows everything about any business and the rules of success are changing everyday. There are no limits to how much you can learn. You can develop breakthrough ideas. Your decision to stay in the game for the long run already puts you ahead of most people.

Do not waste time wondering if all your efforts are being in vain. Instead, devote your days to looking for the next opportunity. Never ask yourself if you should give everything up. Instead, build on what you already have and learn how you can improve.

In all professions and businesses, disappointment comes in waves. Learn to move with the flow and enjoy the come-and-go. Waves are just waves. They can only hit you hard if they catch you standing still.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Alan.V under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Calculate your chances and improve your approach


Do you ever wonder whether all your efforts are being in vain? Do you ever ask yourself if you should give everything up and start a new career? In all professions and businesses, disappointment comes in waves, but that is no reason to do anything foolish.

Please do not throw anything away, make yourself a cup of tea, and let me draw a few facts to your attention. The best lessons can be learned from those who have experienced failure the most often and have found the way to turn it into success.
  • Barely 16% of movies make money for their financiers. Most other films are little more than financial black holes.
  • Only 5% of actors make as much money as a mid-level employee, that is, during the years when actors are lucky enough to find work at all.
  • Less than 1% of movie scripts ever get made into films, despite the fact that many scripts are rewritten a dozen times before they are finally rejected.
Despite their glamour, film festivals are playgrounds where people spend their days saying no to each other. Hundreds of movie producers attend the Cannes Film Festival with projects under their arms, trying frantically to raise money from film distributors around the world.

Ten days later, when the festival is over, most of those movie projects are still unfunded and die an early death. Disappointment and rejection belong to the nature of the film business as much as exciting stories and colourful personalities.

Nevertheless, despite all difficulties, you see those people get up from the ground, take a shower, change clothes, and go back immediately to work on the next project. How come that they don't give up and quit the movie business disgusted with the lack of opportunity? Here are the three reasons:

1.- NEVER TAKE IT PERSONALLY. If a project is rejected, maybe it was not the right time or the right people. If there is a lesson to be learned for the future, learn it. Sometimes, there is none, so just shrug your shoulders and move on.

2.- WHEN YOU MAKE IT, YOU CAN MAKE IT BIG. Movie producers who never had a single great success in their careers know that the next film could be the right one. When a movie catches the taste of the public, there is no limit to how far it can go.

3.- THROUGH PROGRESSIVE IMPROVEMENT, YOU WILL ULTIMATELY FIND THE WAY. Nobody knows everything about any business and the rules of success are changing everyday. There are no limits to how much you can learn. You can develop breakthrough ideas. Your decision to stay in the game for the long run already puts you ahead of most people.

Do not waste time wondering if all your efforts are being in vain. Instead, devote your days to looking for the next opportunity. Never ask yourself if you should give everything up. Instead, build on what you already have and learn how you can improve.

In all professions and businesses, disappointment comes in waves. Learn to move with the flow and enjoy the come-and-go. Waves are just waves. They can only hit you hard if they catch you standing still.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Alan.V under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Take a pause, gain perspective


Few things in life are worth more than perspective. Overcharged agendas can push us to a point where we begin to lose direction. As management tool, planning is highly overrated. As personal philosophy, time management will just keep you sedated.

In periods of low unemployment, when people burned out, doctors used to recommend taking a long vacation. Getting away from everything was considered the ideal means to regain perspective and figure out what is important in life.

Holidays are great, but physical distance for its own sake is a solution that seldom works. Run away from problems and they will catch up with you at night. Try to forget about reality and you will soon experience a loss of vitality.

The truth is that, to gain perspective, human beings don't require physical distance. The result from exotic travel, mental estrangement, won't render our agendas less inconsistent. Peace of mind can be based only on clear ideas and definite objectives.

Orientation comes from definition. Safety arises from prevention. Self-confidence is built on balance. Of course, the problems lie on the opposite side. Fear is made of images that we can't erase. Stress is the certainty of living in a mess, while longing for magic solutions that we don't possess. It is time for a turnaround:

[1] FROM INEFFICIENCY TO FOCUS: Most things that we do everyday are routines. How many of those are tuned to serving our long-term objectives? Imagine what you would do if you knew the precise day of your death. Go ahead and fix the date yourself, for instance, your ninetieth birthday.

Count the time that you have left, review your major priorities, and decide how many hours you can afford to waste on non-essential tasks. One thousand? One hundred? What about zero? Become focused in the way you allocate your time. Drop everything that is leading you away from your goals.

[2] FROM WORRY TO RESILIENCE: On the other hand, you still have lots of time left. There is still plenty that you can achieve, irrespective of difficulties and contingencies. Put your impatience aside and work confidently towards your goals.

With a sharp vision and calm persistence, you will be able to reach most objectives on your list. In the worst periods, perspective will feed your resilience; in the best times, your brilliance.

Physical distance and psychological tricks are not the way to gain perspective. Don't allow time management to fill your life with empty commitments. Walking too fast won't do. Walking too slow brings nothing but woe.

Let go of excess baggage and advance on your chosen path with serenity. Forget about fashions and rediscover your true desire. Remember that everyday, you can build a little higher.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Esme_Vos under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Take a pause, gain perspective


Few things in life are worth more than perspective. Overcharged agendas can push us to a point where we begin to lose direction. As management tool, planning is highly overrated. As personal philosophy, time management will just keep you sedated.

In periods of low unemployment, when people burned out, doctors used to recommend taking a long vacation. Getting away from everything was considered the ideal means to regain perspective and figure out what is important in life.

Holidays are great, but physical distance for its own sake is a solution that seldom works. Run away from problems and they will catch up with you at night. Try to forget about reality and you will soon experience a loss of vitality.

The truth is that, to gain perspective, human beings don't require physical distance. The result from exotic travel, mental estrangement, won't render our agendas less inconsistent. Peace of mind can be based only on clear ideas and definite objectives.

Orientation comes from definition. Safety arises from prevention. Self-confidence is built on balance. Of course, the problems lie on the opposite side. Fear is made of images that we can't erase. Stress is the certainty of living in a mess, while longing for magic solutions that we don't possess. It is time for a turnaround:

[1] FROM INEFFICIENCY TO FOCUS: Most things that we do everyday are routines. How many of those are tuned to serving our long-term objectives? Imagine what you would do if you knew the precise day of your death. Go ahead and fix the date yourself, for instance, your ninetieth birthday.

Count the time that you have left, review your major priorities, and decide how many hours you can afford to waste on non-essential tasks. One thousand? One hundred? What about zero? Become focused in the way you allocate your time. Drop everything that is leading you away from your goals.

[2] FROM WORRY TO RESILIENCE: On the other hand, you still have lots of time left. There is still plenty that you can achieve, irrespective of difficulties and contingencies. Put your impatience aside and work confidently towards your goals.

With a sharp vision and calm persistence, you will be able to reach most objectives on your list. In the worst periods, perspective will feed your resilience; in the best times, your brilliance.

Physical distance and psychological tricks are not the way to gain perspective. Don't allow time management to fill your life with empty commitments. Walking too fast won't do. Walking too slow brings nothing but woe.

Let go of excess baggage and advance on your chosen path with serenity. Forget about fashions and rediscover your true desire. Remember that everyday, you can build a little higher.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Esme_Vos under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

How long are you willing to wait for happiness? (Part 4 of 4)


Look at yourself in the mirror and ask how long you are willing to wait for happiness. The higher your self-confidence, the more determined you will be to advance your cause. Never trust promises that cannot be fulfilled. Instead of putting your plans on hold, redouble your efforts to attain your goals.

The faster you recognize unworkable theories, you better off you'll be. When people request you to wait indefinitely to receive your fair share, discard their assurances and search for alternatives. Life is too short to be wasted in pointless waiting. Do not let vain words interfere with your plans. Make sure that you pursue your objectives with relentless passion.

If someone promises you a job at an indeterminate date, keep on searching for a suitable position. If people tell you to be patient, thank them politely for their advice and look for a short-cut to your goals. If your environment favours passivity, figure out how to motivate yourself to work harder in order to accomplish more.

Write down your answer to the question of how long you are willing to wait for happiness. Are you going to stop chasing your dreams until the world becomes a perfect place? Are you going to devote your best years to pointless discussions? Would you accept just to grow older without ever improving your situation?

To those who preach endless waiting, let your reply be short and determined. Shrug your shoulders and tell them the truth. Life is too short for trusting uncertain predictions. It is up to each individual to face problems courageously, stabilize his situation, and transform it into opportunity. Your willingness to wait for happiness should not go beyond what circumstances dictate as absolutely necessary.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by 111 Emergency under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How long are you willing to wait for happiness? (Part 4 of 4)


Look at yourself in the mirror and ask how long you are willing to wait for happiness. The higher your self-confidence, the more determined you will be to advance your cause. Never trust promises that cannot be fulfilled. Instead of putting your plans on hold, redouble your efforts to attain your goals.

The faster you recognize unworkable theories, you better off you'll be. When people request you to wait indefinitely to receive your fair share, discard their assurances and search for alternatives. Life is too short to be wasted in pointless waiting. Do not let vain words interfere with your plans. Make sure that you pursue your objectives with relentless passion.

If someone promises you a job at an indeterminate date, keep on searching for a suitable position. If people tell you to be patient, thank them politely for their advice and look for a short-cut to your goals. If your environment favours passivity, figure out how to motivate yourself to work harder in order to accomplish more.

Write down your answer to the question of how long you are willing to wait for happiness. Are you going to stop chasing your dreams until the world becomes a perfect place? Are you going to devote your best years to pointless discussions? Would you accept just to grow older without ever improving your situation?

To those who preach endless waiting, let your reply be short and determined. Shrug your shoulders and tell them the truth. Life is too short for trusting uncertain predictions. It is up to each individual to face problems courageously, stabilize his situation, and transform it into opportunity. Your willingness to wait for happiness should not go beyond what circumstances dictate as absolutely necessary.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by 111 Emergency under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]